U.S. job open­ings fall to low­est level in 8 months

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - MARKETPLACE - By Christo­pher S. Rugaber

WASHINGTON >> U.S. em­ploy­ers posted the fewest jobs in eight months in Au­gust, a sign job gains will likely re­main mod­est in the com­ing months.

The La­bor Depart­ment said Wed­nes­day job open­ings dropped nearly 7 per­cent to 5.4 mil­lion, down from 5.8 mil­lion in July. That month’s to­tal had been a record, but was re­vised lower.

The data adds to re­cent ev­i­dence that hir­ing may be slow­ing a bit from the ro­bust pace of the pre­vi­ous two years. Yet the econ­omy is still gen­er­at­ing enough jobs to lower the un­em­ploy­ment rate over time. And most econ­o­mists have ex­pected job gains to ta­per as the num­ber of un­em­ployed has dwin­dled.

The big­gest de­clines in job open­ings oc­curred in pro­fes­sional and busi­ness ser­vices, which in­cludes ac­coun­tants and engi­neers as well as temp work­ers, and man­u­fac­tur­ing.

The num­ber of peo­ple who quit their jobs re­mained mostly un­changed at nearly 3 mil­lion. That’s up 4.4 per­cent in the past year, though the to­tal has flat­tened in re­cent months. Quit­ting is a sign that Amer­i­cans are more op­ti­mistic about the job mar­ket and their chances of find­ing work.

It also can push up wages, as peo­ple are more likely to quit for a new job at higher pay.

Lay­offs de­clined slightly and re­mained near pre­re­ces­sion lows. Many em­ploy­ers say they are hav­ing trou­ble find­ing the new em­ploy­ees they need, which sug­gests they are more likely to hold onto their cur­rent staffers.

“Nearly two-thirds of job sep­a­ra­tions are peo­ple vol­un­tar­ily quit­ting rather than get­ting laid off or fired,” Jed Kolko, chief econ­o­mist at job site In­deed. “That’s a good in­di­ca­tor that work­ers are con­fi­dent they’ll find new jobs.”

The fig­ures come af­ter last Fri­day’s jobs re­port, which showed that em­ploy­ers added just 156,000 jobs in Septem­ber, while the un­em­ploy­ment rate ticked up to 5 per­cent. Job growth has av­er­aged a solid 178,000 a month this year, but that is down from about 230,000 last year.

Wed­nes­day’s re­port, known as the Job Open­ings and La­bor Turnover sur­vey, or JOLTS, pro­vides a more de­tailed read­ing of the job mar­ket than the Fri­day em­ploy­ment num­bers.

The JOLTS shows that to­tal hir­ing in Au­gust slipped less than 1 per­cent to 5.2 mil­lion. That hir­ing fig­ure is a gross to­tal. Fri­day’s jobs re­port cal­cu­lates a net to­tal of gains af­ter sub­tract­ing those who quit, re­tired or were laid off. Gross hir­ing was 3 per­cent higher in Au­gust com­pared with a year ago.

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